Along Came Polly
Stiller is a very funny guy. When he is on his game, like in There's
Something About Mary, Flirting With Disaster and Keeping the Faith,
he can be as funny as anyone in the movies. He can also be a
surprisingly good dramatic actor... see Your Friends & Neighbors and
Permanent Midnight if you don't believe me.
it's kind of conspicuous that the best film he's done is still his
first major role... a supporting role at that... in Reality Bites.
When you get right down to it, he's made a whole lot of crappy movies.
Zoolander, Duplex, Mystery Men and the way overrated
Meet the Parents immediately come to mind.
Therefore, I was worried by the fact that Along
Came Polly was written and directed by John Hamburg, the guy who also
penned two of Stiller's worst, Zoolander and Meet the Parents. I am happy to
report that I laughed at Along Came Polly a lot more than I expected
Stiller plays Reuben Feffer. Reuben is the typical Stiller role, a
slightly nerdy, uptight loser who is transformed by love. The role is
not a stretch for him, but he does have the character down pat. He is
a risk-assessment manager for an insurance company, and the aversion to risk
goes beyond his business life. He is obsessively germ-phobic, he will
only eat certain foods and he will never do anything that even slightly
could put him into danger. While Reuben is on his honeymoon on St. Barts, his wife (Debra Messing of Will & Grace) has an affair with
the local scuba instructor (Hank Azaria with long blonde hair and an
outrageous French accent).
Trying to get on with his life, he agrees to go to an art exhibit downtown.
There he runs into Polly Prince, a girl he had gone to junior high school
with. Now she has grown up to look like Jennifer Aniston, so Reuben
decided to step outside of his safety zone and ask her for a date. You
can tell Polly is a free spirit because she lives in a funky little
apartment, likes spicy foods and salsa dancing, buys her clothes at
thrift shops and has an old pet ferret who is losing his sight.
(By the way, I know this film is not the first to do it, but when did
it become okay for comedies to go for cheap laughs by hurting innocent
animals?) Polly is also sort of flighty, constantly ready to move
across the world at a moment's notice and deathly afraid of commitment.
Like Stiller, Aniston is playing a character she could play in her sleep,
Polly is like Rachel Green's bohemian sister. She's not quite
stretching her acting muscles like she did in The Good Girl or even
better romantic comedies like Picture Perfect and Office Space.
However, she does just fine with the little she is given to do. She is
likable and quirky and sexy, which is all she's asked to be.
Perhaps the reason that the film does work as well as it does is because of
strong supporting roles. In particular, Philip Seymour Hoffman is a
hoot as Reuben's best friend, an aging child actor who still clings to his
short long-ago moment of fame. Alec Baldwin is also hysterical as Reuben's
crass boss. Debra Messing is just fine in the
nothing role of Reuben's short-lived wife, and Hank Azaria is pretty funny
as the beach bum scuba instructor.
As for the scenes that looked so stupid in
the coming attractions; Ben having his face smashed into the chest of a
sweaty, hairy fat man and Ben stopping up Polly's toilet... they are as dumb as they
looked. The nice surprise is that they are the exceptions, not the
rule. Yes, there is entirely too much potty humor (a line about "sharts"
is particularly distasteful.) However, there are also a lot of good-hearted
moments. You like these characters and you want to see how it will all
Not that there is any doubt, really.
Along Came Polly relies slavishly on the constants of romantic
comedies, so that nothing that happens is ever really a surprise. All
the clichéd plot points are touched upon. They get to know each other.
After a disastrous first date they become inseparable by the film's halfway
point. Then the ex-wife comes back and
asks for forgiveness. Even though no one in the world believes he will take
her back, Reuben tortures himself about it. A
series of misunderstandings cause Reuben and Polly, who are obviously meant for
each other, to break up. Will they get back together before the end
credits roll? You know the answer as well as I do. However, I would be thrilled if I never have to
see another romantic comedy where a guy has to dash across New York City at
rush hour to
stop the woman he loves from moving away.
Along Came Polly isn't a great movie. It isn't even a particularly
memorable movie. But it is an enjoyable movie. Sometimes that's
Copyright ©2004 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: March 7, 2004.